Harry Potter and the Secret Link Part 14
As Harry had been spending Christmas Eve with his surrogate family in the privacy of the Room of Requirement, where his godfather and the congenial werewolf would be staying for the night, he was not present to avert the disaster that was Malfoy in the Gryffindor Tower. In fact, he had no idea that at the very moment he was telling Sirius about the latest Quidditch match against Hufflepuff in full detail that Malfoy had actually been left alone long enough to plunder through Harry's trunk ("Potter needs to clean this thing out... Hello, what is this?..."), wardrobe ("Gross! Ugh, is this how muggles dress? No wonder everyone wants to wipe them off the face of the earth..."), and other personal belongings ("Scrap sheet of parchment, Frog card, Frog card... Agrippa? Ooh, haven't got her yet...").
It's an interesting, yet unknown fact that there hasn't been a Malfoy in Gryffindor Tower since William Honua Malfoy, who was so upset about his Sorting that he actually went about carving "W. Malfoy wasn't here" over random surfaces, dates going as far back as 09-01-1852 and ending somewhere around 05-28-1860. The Gryffindors of the time had been so ashamed of the presence of a Malfoy that they wiped away any and all traces that William Malfoy had ever been there after the Malfoy had graduated, and William never spoke of his time at Hogwarts. However, if anyone bothered to look hard enough, one could clearly make out the faint scarring of "V. Nallou was 'l neie 02-08-1855" near the fireplace... or something to that effect. The source of the scarring remained a complete mystery to present day Gryffindors all around, as anyone name Nallou had never been found on the registry for that time.
Though the researcher had found a Malfoy. He refused to mention the shame to his fellow Gryffindors, and carried the secret to his death on the eighth of February in the year A.C. 002. Coincidentally, it was the same date as the carving near the fireplace and, should anyone bother to do the math, A.C. 002 would be the Year of Our Lord 2055 -exactly two entire centuries after the marks had been carved.
It was already late by the time Harry had entered the Tower, feeling elation, giddiness, and bubbly good cheer all rolled into one hyperactive punch. He was confused when he saw six people gathered around the fireplace instead of the five he was expecting. He was downright horrified to see that the extra person happened to be one Draco Malfoy; the same Draco Malfoy that was looking over at him with a smirk on his pointy, handsome face and a butterbeer bottle hanging casually from his long, slim fingers.
Duo, of course, was pretending ignorance to the entire thing. "Hey, Harry! We were just about to start a game of I Never. Grab a butterbeer and pop a squat."
Almost immediately Duo turned back to Draco. "It's a really good drinking game. See, I say something I've never done, and if anyone else has done it, they have to drink. It's better if we could actually play with hard liquor, but I couldn't convince my contact to sneak in anything stronger than butterbeer. Besides, I don't think Heero, Trowa, Quat, and Wu would have gone for the hard stuff anyway. It'll be fun either way, though."
Harry didn't move. "How about I start? I never... invited Draco Malfoy into the Gryffindor Tower." He wasn't surprised when Duo tipped back the bottle of butterbeer enthusiastically. It figured.
Harry wanted to rant and scream, the prevailing question on his mind being, "What the hell were you thinking, you daft git?" However, upon seeing the devious joy on Malfoy's face, the Boy Who Lived refused to lose his cool in front of the Slytherin Prince. Instead, he grabbed a butterbeer and threw himself into the chair closest to the hearth, refusing to even so much as glance in Malfoy's general direction. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see, very clearly, the blond Slytherin snicker silently.
"Yeah, Draco wasn't doing anything all by his lonesome in Slytherin Tower, so I just thought I'd invite him to actually, you know, have some fun tonight. Didn't think you'd mind," Duo said casually, his tone implying that he did think Harry would mind quite a lot, but not enough to short sheet Duo's bedding.
Harry let him think that, and simply said, "Hm." He instead chose to look at Malfoy. "You haven't stolen anything yet, have you?"
"Why, Potter, do you really have so low an opinion of me?" Malfoy said mockingly, his left palm stretched flat above his black heart. Harry noticed that Malfoy really didn't deny or admit to anything. He silently vowed to take inventory of all his possessions before Malfoy left the Tower with whatever item(s) he'd purloined.
"Ooh, me next," Duo cheered. "Um, I never..."
There was a long moment of silence as everyone stared expectantly at the American who was lost in thought.
"I never, um..."
Clearly, Duo was having a lot of trouble thinking of things he hadn't done. "I never stripped somebody else's, er, mode of transportation for -no, done that... I never stole from a -no, done that, too... Oh! I never set my own broken leg."
"That's profiling," Heero said, but he drank anyway. Harry was somehow not surprised that Heero would be intense enough to actually set his own broken leg.
Duo grinned. "Your turn, Hee-chan!"
The Japanese boy raised an eyebrow. "I never talked to my... mode of transportation."
"Now you're just being unfair," Duo grumbled as he, Wufei, and Quatre took a swig of butterbeer (in Quatre's case, a polite sip -rich people didn't take 'swigs'). Harry was only a second behind them after a moment of silent debate on whether brooms counted. "You're up, Quatre."
"I've never played I Never," Quatre admitted with a small grin. Duo and, surprisingly enough, Trowa ended up drinking to that after a small debate on whether that was actually a legitimate question, which brought about something about a rule book that, apparently, only Duo had heard of.
"I never held a grudge against anyone for blowing up and-or destroying my mode of transportation," Trowa said calmly.
"You're all just targeting me today," Duo mused; he was the only one to drink besides Harry, who thought back to the point in time his treasured Nimbus 2000 was destroyed by the Whomping Willow. "You're up, Dragon boy."
"Stop calling me Dragon boy," came twin responses. Draco and Wufei glanced at each other wearily.
"Latin," Draco pointed out.
"Chinese," Wufei admitted grudgingly. (1)
And over the silly nickname, it seemed a bond was formed.
"I'm talking about his highness Malfoy over there," Duo said after a short break for his laughter.
"I'd feel better about being called his highness if I didn't know you were being sarcastic," Malfoy drawled, putting a finger to his lips and tapping daintily in thought. "I never really underestimated Maxwell."
Duo pouted when, one by one, everyone but he and Draco tilted the bottle back. "You guys are so mean."
"You wear that fool's mask like it's made of your own skin, Maxwell," Wufei pointed out stoically. Then, with a smirk on his lips, he said silkily, "I never had a crush on Yuy."
Duo's face was flaming red as he guiltily brought the bottle to his lips, avoiding eye contact with Heero. To his amazement, he wasn't the only one who was drinking to that announcement. "Trowa?... Draco! Quatre?!"
"He's very intense," Trowa said simply. "Whatever attraction garnered eventually became more like respect."
"I'm a sixteen year old wizard, for the sake of the spirits," Draco grumbled. "Linoleum turns me on."
Which wasn't something Harry really wanted to know about Malfoy's private life... kinda.
"Um," Quatre said sheepishly, "I have a thing for the quiet type? Only, uh, it's more of a sort of thing for the passive quiet types now..."
Harry really couldn't see the appeal. Besides the fact Heero was handsome and, well, intense, there really wasn't anything that the Slytherin did for him. His taste led more to the sardonic, witty, arctic type...
What Harry didn't realize that his type was exactly Draco Malfoy. He just refused to admit it to himself on the most basic level. And Draco... well, linoleum. Enough said. Green eyes a plus. He had a thing for green.
Heero, on the other hand, suspected that Trowa, at one time, might have had feelings for him. Quatre was a shocker, and Draco's admittance was bordering scandalous, but when he saw Duo put the bottle to his lips and take a healthy swig, none of that seemed to really matter much. If Heero had been anything like Duo, he would have mentally cried Score! to express his jubilance; but Heero is Heero, so he contented himself with feeling somewhat satisfied that the chances of his mission's (tentatively called Operation Get the Boy) success increased by fifty-three point four percent.
Harry, feeling slightly devious at this sudden development, said, "I never had a crush on Duo."
Wufei cursed in three different languages and almost refused to drink until he realized that, damn it all, he was bound by honor to be truthful. Draco, of course, was shameless in admitting that, yeah, at one point in time, if there was a gag available, he'd probably pursue a relationship with the Gryffindor American, too. And Heero... well, Heero made sure Duo was looking directly at him when he confidently tilted the bottle back.
Harry recognized the rare moments when Duo was struck speechless, and this was one of them.
"I... Um..." Duo fumbled, blinking owlishly at Heero. Heero smirked at him. The braided boy shook his head slowly and, instead, voted to look at Wufei with a raised eyebrow. "Wu? Is there something you haven't been telling me?"
"It was once, it lasted about a week, I liked your eyes, drop it before I string up your guts for garland," the Chinese youth grounded out.
Duo grinned. "Heh... Well, touché. I never had a crush on Harry!"
Draco wasn't going to drink to that. He really wasn't. He didn't feel bound by some stupid honor code or sense of nobility, and he was a Slytherin, for the sake of the spirits, he lied when it pleased him for reasons large and small. So imagine his surprise when he found his hand mindlessly lifting the bottle to his mouth, wrapping his lips around the neck, and tilting back against his own will.
Harry's entire brain lost functional capabilities for the next three seconds. And then -What the bloody hell?!
"You jinxed it!" Draco accused, the bottle of butterbeer sloshing as he pointed at Duo. "I wasn't going to answer that!"
"But that would have been lying," Duo pointed out impishly.
"What's that stupid Americanism you're always spouting o- duh! No shit, no kidding, no joke, no duh, Maxwell!" Draco ranted. "No more crush questions! No more! In one sitting you've had me admit to thinking unfit thoughts about you, about YUY, and, of all people, POTTER! That's more than I've admitted to in my entire life! Guess what, Maxwell, you've done the impossible!"
"The improbable," Duo corrected primly. "Because, apparently, it's possible."
"Hm," Trowa hummed. "I never got all bent out of shape because someone found out I had a crush on him."
"Then tell your little blond boyfriend that you have a crush on him and get it over with," Malfoy said haughtily, downing the rest of his butterbeer in almost two gulps. "All the tiptoeing and the naïveté and the unintentional sexual innuendos that goes on between the two of you makes me want to lock you in a closet together for an obscenely long period of time. Get a libido. Want mine? Hell, apparently it's a very healthy one."
"There are unintentional sexual innuendos?" Quatre whispered timidly, cheeks pink.
"Of course there are," Draco said. "When Barton says 'let's go study', what he really means is 'let's go-'"
"That's enough," Trowa said softly, the threat in his voice implied but belayed by his placid face.
"-'play charades', I was going to say. Because Barton's not one for conversation. What did you think I was going to say?"
"Good save," Duo said, honestly impressed.
Draco shrugged gracefully. "I like waking up in the morning. It's like saying 'oh, look -I'm not dead' and actually feeling relieved about it."
Harry snorted wryly. Even Quatre looked entertained, and at least Trowa seemed somewhat mollified by the object of his affection's amusement. Only Draco could stir up that much crap and end up defusing the entire situation in the same breath.
"Well," Duo said brightly, "that was fun."
"You would classify a moment of utter chaos as 'fun'," Wufei pointed out sardonically. Duo pretended not to hear.
"But, alas, it's getting late. Time for all good boys and girls to lay down their heads for good ol' Saint Nick to come with gifts and... well, no, all anyone really cares about are the presents."
"All good boys and girls, huh. So what are you going to do in the meantime?" Heero asked blandly.
"Ooh," Duo bemoaned. "Cut to the quick there, didn't you?... Hee-chan." The affectionate nickname, so used to the infliction of teasing, suddenly seemed to carry a gentler, more caring meaning as the American looked at the Japanese Slytherin with a soft, glowing smile on his face.
It was decided early on that everyone would be sleeping in the common room, and the sleeping bags were quickly spread out along the floor around the fireplace. Draco, of course, "politely" refused a sleeping bag by informing him that he was a Malfoy, and Malfoys didn't sleep on the floor. In fact, Malfoys barely tolerated sleeping on the couch, but he'd take what he could get in this situation -he didn't think he was going to get a better offer than the couch. A simple banishing charm ridded the common room of the evidence of alcohol, and, one by one, the seven boys settled in for a long night's rest.
Duo woke to the oddest sensation of something sprinkling some weird dust over him.
When he opened his eyes, he was left with his bemusement as he spied a sprig of mistletoe hovering overhead, sprinkling silvery dust all over his face and hair.
"What the hell..." he mumbled, not quite believing what he was seeing.
A voice near his ear rumbled, "Is that mistletoe?"
Gah... Duo felt his face flush hotly, unwilling to even dare glance at the object of his affection, who he had somehow managed to cling on to sometime during the night. "Um... y-yeah."
The mistletoe emitted a sound.
"Is it... laughing at us?" Well, at least Duo wasn't going crazy; he thought the odd, tinkling laughter was in his imagination. On the other hand, he'd never heard Heero Yuy sound so perplexed since he'd known the guy.
"Sounds like it..."
"Why isn't it going away?"
Duo stared at the mistletoe. The mistletoe -obviously charmed... giggled. "Um. Christmas tradition states that we have to, erm... kiss. Under the mistletoe."
"Westerners have strange traditions."
"In defense of my people -you're absolutely right. Ever hear of the nationally celebrated Talk Like A Pirate Day?" (2)
"It's one of our lesser known holidays."
Neither made a movement. The entire room was silent, save the soft breathing of their fellow pilots and the slightly heavier breathing of Harry and Draco. The mistletoe continued to gaily secrete silvery sparkles all over the two Gundam pilots.
"So, um..." Duo probed hesitantly, finally gathering enough courage to meet the calm Prussian blue eyes that were regarding him almost... tenderly? Which, of course, did nothing to tame his wild libido. "If we want it to go away..."
He didn't get to finished. He didn't have to. Suddenly hot, soft lips were pressing oh-so-softly against his own for a single, chaste moment. Duo's stomach trembled and his heart beat wildly in his chest at the intimate contact, barely able to believe that this was Heero, Heero Yuy who was kissing him with an amount of tenderness that Duo had no idea the Japanese pilot was capable of. It was forever and only a moment, tightly bound in the same explosive package, and Duo... melted.
The moment was broken when the mistletoe emitted a loud coo of delight, startling the others back into the land of the waking and effectively ending the kiss. The mistletoe danced around gaily before detonating, exploding into a shower of silver sparkles and small, familiar foil wrapped candies that almost covered the common room floor alone.
"Did I just see a sprig of mistletoe explode?" Wufei asked gruffly, picking up a Hershey's Kiss from his lap and examining it.
"Oh," Draco said wearily. "I thought I'd dreamt that part."
It was Harry who found the small sheet of thin parchment that had fluttered to the ground. "'Christmas Kisses to all! From Forge and Gred Weasley of Weasley Wizard Wheezes, introducing our hottest item on the market this holiday season -Mischievous Mistletoes.'" Harry grinned, shaking his head.
"Nice to see they're actually putting their dropout, dead weight brains together and making something of themselves," Draco grumbled. "Clearly they're the only ones with any business sense in that lot."
"Shut up, Malfoy," Harry said lightly, folding the note and putting it to the side.
Duo sat up, face flushed and eyes twinkling merrily. "Merry Christmas! Oooh... Look at the goodies..." This, of course, was not only directed toward the candies that littered the ground, but the large piles of presents set beside each of them.
"Merry Christmas, Duo," Quatre said sleepily, having yet to unravel himself of his sleeping bag cocoon.
"No sugar for Maxwell in the mornings," Wufei warned. "It's about as bad as giving him coffee."
"Don't be cruel," Duo chided, popping a Kiss into his mouth and grinning feverishly, still recovering from Heero's chaste kiss. Heero, kissing... Helllooooo, libido!
Draco had already separate his large sprawling pile of presents into two, the one closest to him being the smallest. As per his Christmas morning ritual, he'd broken open Gregory's gift, revealing a large boxful of miscellaneous favorite treats from Honeyduke's, as was Gregory's normal routine. "Denying chocolate in the morning is a mortal sin, Chang." Mmm. Chocolate covered raisins...
Once everyone was settled into full upright positions and aware enough to really take note of their surroundings, Duo clapped his hands eagerly and eyed the mountains of gifts with glee.
"In all fairness, since he's our favorite little pacifist," Duo said teasingly, grinning at Quatre, "I think Q-bean should open one of his presents first."
"I couldn't possibly -Duo, this is your holiday, maybe you should-"
"Gag it and open one, Quat," Duo said eagerly. "C'mon, c'mon! Pick one and tear it open already!"
Quatre carefully checked over his pile of gifts and shyly took a plainly wrapped present that he knew came from Trowa. It only took a moment to carefully tear away the wrapping and pry the lid from heavy box. The blond Winner heir gasped almost soundlessly as he softly ran his fingers down the wooden case. "My violin case..."
"And your violin," Trowa added simply. "I had Iria send it and the flute."
Quatre smiled brightly at his taller friend (boyfriend? Who knew) and slowly opened the case, gazing at his treasured violin lovingly. "Thank you, Trowa. I... thought I was going to have to buy a new one. I never even thought to ask Iria to send mine. This means so much to me..."
Draco was very careful not to gag noisily at the scene. Ugh. Hufflepuff sap was liberally dripping everywhere. He supposed that, if he had to look at the bright side, at least it was in the Gryffindor Tower and not Slytherin -the Slytherins would be trying to get the sap out of the atmosphere for months.
"That one is from me," Quatre said softly, pointing out a slim package wrapped in gold and silver. Trowa slid the package out from under another and calmly tore the front of the present, concealing whatever it was that Quatre had decided to give him.
"A music book," Trowa murmured, "for violin and flute duets."
"I thought that we could maybe play another duet sometimes," Quatre admitted. "It's been so long since..."
"I'd enjoy that," Trowa replied.
Get a room, Draco thought amiably, biting the head off a vigorously wriggling chocolate frog. He was slightly irritated that he felt compelled to bite his tongue on every scathing thought that entered his head, but Slytherins (and Malfoys in general) had keen survival instincts. There was no way he was airing his thoughts to this group of homey psychos without a lot of reliable witnesses and bodyguards. Even then, he wasn't sure that would help.
Duo felt no need to preserve much of anything. "Get a room. Wufei, you're up! Open mine, open mine!" the American chanted giddily, shoving a gaily wrapped present at the weary Chinese youth. The other looked hesitant to open his present, as if fearing what Duo could have possibly picked out for him. Finally, with a certain amount of resolve and resignation, Wufei carefully opened the package and pulled the lid from the box.
Wufei's almond-shaped eyes widened marginally after pulling the thin white paper away, revealing a carefully folded white leather material. He pulled the white leather from the box, and held the product up, very clearly surprised by the creamy white leather duster in his hands. "This is... spectacular, Maxwell. It must have cost a small fortune."
"Eh," Duo shrugged bashfully. "Suddenly I found myself with this butt load of money. What better ways to spend it all than buying gifts for your friends, right, Wuffers?"
"Un," Wufei murmured, slipping the duster around his slim shoulders. A perfect fit. "Don't call me Wuffers. I do believe it's your turn, Maxwell."
Duo squealed again and dove for his rapidly dwindling pile, pulling out a rather heavy present with red wrapping and gold ribbons, simply marked "From Heero." Duo favored his friend (boyfriend? Who knew -this group was so damn secretive, Draco noted irritably) with a small smile and eagerly tore away the wrapping.
"Heero," Duo breathed, delicately lifting the gift from its velvet trappings. It was an intricate sort of crystal chime hanging from soft, silky threads from the metal ring. The crystals were lavender in color, glinting brightly and beautifully in the light of the common room, tiny beams of light falling on every surface. Between the cylinder crystals hung labyrinthine black stone roses, so carefully carved that they almost appeared so very real. "It's... it's beautiful. Thank you."
"Hn." Heero stared at the soft look in Duo's violet eyes and decided, then and there, that he liked that look. "It reminds me of you."
Duo smiled softly, tilting his head as the crystals clinked together, creating a soft, melodious sound that gave the indication that the chimes certainly were magical in nature. "It's perfect."
Draco tamed the wide smirk that wanted to paste itself on his face. Oh, yeah -Heero was in there. With the lube. To keep himself from smirking, he continued tossing his chocolate-covered raisins into his mouth, feigning disinterest at the lovey-dovey scene before him.
The trend continued from there. Wufei received a book about the magical history of the Chang clan from Heero, which he accepted with gratitude. From Duo, Harry received a pair of expensive dragon hide Seeker gloves, the other Gryffindor having noticed weeks ago that Harry's old pair were in dire need of repair or burial. Heero studied the heavy Glock from Wufei with an appreciative eye, and Duo practically squealed over his new muggle board game that he called Monopoly, which actually sounded quite fun once Duo explained the purpose of the stupid muggle game to Draco, appealing to his inner business mogul. A set of throwing knives, a nice pair of dragon hide boots, a political book, and various other gifts (including, oddly enough, a small square of linoleum that had Duo laughing gaily as Draco shot the smirking Boy Who Lived a vicious glare, unable to help the small tick of amusement at the corner of his mouth from rearing its ugly head) later, it came to Duo again. If the braided boy hadn't been thrumming with concealed glee at the beginning of this Christmas tradition, he was by this point.
"My turn!" Duo grinned like a kid in a candy store, eagerly ripping into the present that was very clearly from Quatre by the tag's mark. Shredded wrapping paper went flying by the handful, finally revealing...
"A state of the art digital disc player," Duo whispered, truly awed as he checked over his gift. "Flat screen panel... I hear the clarity of these things are supposed to be amazing, but it won't actually be released until six months from now. How in the world did you manage it, Quat?"
"What is it?" Draco muttered, peering at the invention with a slight curl of distrust to his upper lip. It looked incredibly muggle...
"It's like a painting," Trowa explained, tossing one of his new throwing knives hilt over blade and catching them deftly in his palm. Very good balance, amazing quality... "Only the scenery can change along with the figures, depending on what disc you place in it. It's meant for entertainment."
Quatre smiled. "The company developing it is a sub-branch of Winner Enterprises. That's the current working prototype, and the developers were looking for someone who was technologically savvy to give them feedback. I hope the digital discs I got are to your liking... It really doesn't seem like something you'd enjoy, but when I described you to my sister Tanua, she assured me they would be in your taste. She's generally a good judge of character..."
Duo glanced at the box set that had been hidden under the DDP and stared. There, on the cover of the box, was an odd assortment of smiling, happy-looking fury animals surrounding a giant tree. The title proclaimed it Happy Tree Friends: The Complete First-Third Seasons. (3) And Duo began to laugh. Quite maniacally, in fact.
Draco took the time to care to look at whatever muggle device Duo was cackling over. "I don't get it. What's so funny about a bunch of insipid, cute furry animals and a tree?"
To which Duo proceeded to show him what was so funny about a bunch of insipid, cute furry animals and a tree.
"I want one," Draco murmured breathlessly, the violent, gory deaths of furry animals appealing to his inner Bastard!Slytherin immensely. "Make it so."
"You want something muggle?" Harry said grumpily, not quite seeing the appeal. "That's really gross and disturbing."
"It's great!" Duo said giddily.
"It's you," Quatre pointed out faintly, a green tinge to his face as he watched a cute furry green bear in army fatigues go ballistic and slaughter dozens of hapless animals due to what appeared to be Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. "I'm... slightly worried that one my sisters knows this show exists."
"One of 'em is bound to have taste," Duo pointed out happily, lovingly placing his new toy to the side. Draco smirked when he saw the blond Hufflepuff mouth the word 'taste' doubtfully, as if he'd accidentally bit into a vomit flavored bean.
"Thanks, guys," Duo murmured finally. "This was the best Christmas ever."
"Considering it's the only Christmas..." Wufei muttered lowly. The rest was a confusing jumble of mumbles and grunts that Draco was almost sure it wasn't English. A casual glance at Potter assured him that the Golden Boy of Gryffindor hadn't caught Wufei's bitter words either.
His friends had. All five new students fell into silence. Quatre was looking into the healthy fire contemplatively as Trowa merely focused his gaze on Quatre. Heero was this shy of an actual scowl, and Duo busied himself with playing with one of his many new presents without saying much of anything.
Draco flinched under the sudden intensity of the silent atmosphere before he threw back another handful of chocolate raisins as he curiously poked at the muggle thing Maxwell called a DDP. "You people certainly don't celebrate by halves. My, this has been the most excitable Christmas since that time Mother caught my cousin snogging his sister under the dining hall table."
Duo blinked. "What, and that isn't perfectly acceptable behavior in your circles?" Before Draco could shoot off a scathing comment about there being something of a difference between keeping it in the family and incest, the braided American boy pointed out, "I noticed you hardly opened any of your presents since you found your treats from your friends."
"Malfoy," Draco said, pointing to himself. "Christmas. Silly muggle holiday that lost it's novelty to the wealthy since its introduction into the wizarding world." He waved his hand carelessly at the extensive pile. "It's from my Mother. I already know she's got me everything I wanted."
"Yeah?" Duo smirked, throwing Draco a modestly sized, gold and silver wrapped box. "Here's something I know she didn't give you."
Draco blinked, putting his treats aside. He tore open the wrappings, finding something that, like the DDP, looked very muggle and curious. "What is it?"
Duo grinned. "Handheld Tetris."
Harry blinked. "Like the video game? Duo... that game is almost as old as this castle."
"And when Draco gets the hang of that," Duo said pleasantly, "I shall proceed to get him addicted to Luminous."
"That's assuming I'll like this," Draco said with a curl to his lip, holding out the muggle device as if it were unclean.
"Oh, that's addiction you're holding in your hand," Duo said evilly, well on his way to corrupting the pureblood wizard. "Odd, colorful shapes fall from the top. Your goal is to make a straight line disappear, giving you points. The entire purpose of the game is to get a Tetris -four straight lines in a little row. You can flip and move the shapes accordingly by the use of those nifty little buttons."
Draco sneered. "Sounds dull." Once Duo informed him how to turn on this muggle gadget, Draco immediately began proving how dull it was for the next two and a half hours. While Draco was fiddling with the device, the others finished opening their various gifts. They were all well on their way into a rousing game of Monopoly when the Malfoy heir let out a displeased grunt.
"You didn't say it goes faster the further you go along," he said accusingly, not even looking at Duo as another game began.
"Oops." Duo and Harry exchanged amused smirks.
Draco Malfoy was successfully enthralled in the addiction that was Tetris.
In the Granger home, it was traditional that after all presents were opened and carefully placed in cautiously marked piles (for instance, "return for refund and find correct size", "return for refund and find something better", and "we'll keep it, but we'll probably never wear it") and all excess paper and bows were either thrown away in a handy trash bag or saved for reuse (the bows, for instance, could be reused for next Christmas, and if they were careful enough in the unwrapping process, the paper could then be reused as well), the close knit familial unit would curl up on the wide couch with hot cocoa -Mrs. Granger to the far left, Hermione Granger in the middle, and Mr. Granger to the far right- and watch the news.
Some would view this as boring; most children would prefer to go off and explore the depths of their gifts. As most of Hermione's presents consisted of books, whether fiction or nonfiction, science or magic, she didn't have this problem. Instead, she rested the book in her lap and, during something she deemed uninteresting on the news, she would crack open the book and begin to read while waiting for something to catch her interest.
She almost missed it. Enthralled with the intricacies of Science Versus Magic: When the Worlds Collide by Matilda Muggs (a thoughtful present from Duo; one she hadn't expected) she was barely aware of her surroundings when a name pierced the fog around her ears.
"Tomorrow marks the sixteenth anniversary of the death of Colonial rights activist Heero Yuy. Yuy was a prominent figure in standing up for equal rights amongst the colonies and peace between both the Earth Alliance and the Sphere United -coincidentally, today's new Earth Sphere Alliance was named in reverence to this great man whose life was cut short when he was assassinated on Christmas day, After Colony 180. (4)"
"Yuy's remaining family will be holding a small memorial service for anyone who wishes to visit the mausoleum, which is only open to the public one day out of the year."
"Speaking of Heero Yuy," the female reporter said, turning to her male counterpart, "have you seen this boy?"
Hermione frowned down at her book, glancing up from the text to see a blurred black and white photo flash on screen. She could make out wild, dark hair, a wiry frame... The photo was too low in quality to actually make out any distinct features, but...
... It was recognizable enough.
Heero Yuy. Duo's friend and new Slytherin.
"He's between the ages of sixteen and eighteen, 5"4' or 5"5', with blue eyes and brown hair. He's been known to wear a green muscle shirt and either faded blue jeans or black spandex shorts. He goes by the name of Heero Yuy, and he's suspected of terrorist activities during the War to End All Wars. Though his role in the war is unrevealed at this time, the Earth Sphere Alliance has declared that Yuy is wanted for questioning at this time. If you happen to see Yuy at any given time, the Earth Sphere Alliance and the media strongly urge that you do not, in any way, approach or irritate Yuy. The preferred method of dealing with this sighting is if you contact the local authorities immediately and evacuate the area. Relena Dorlian, former Queen of the World and princess and heir apparent of Sanq Kingdom, maintains her stance that Heero Yuy is not a threat and is, in fact, a good friend of hers. She urges the Earth Sphere Alliance to revoke the warrant of arrest, but so far, the Earth Sphere Alliance has left her plea unanswered."
"Along with Yuy," the male anchorman said in lieu of his female counterpart, "are his cohorts, one Trowa Barton; however, little is known about Barton, and the authorities cannot seem to find an appropriate photo to give us any indication as to what he looks like. He is approximately 5"7', green eyes, with light to medium brown hair.
Another of Yuy and Barton's partners is a confirmed Gundam pilot. Duo Maxwell-"
Hermione could barely breathe for the sudden intensity of her lungs seizing up, the book in her limp hands falling noisily to the floor. That's... That's not possible... Duo's a wizard!
"-is the only confirmed Gundam pilot at this date." Instead of a picture this time, a prerecorded video reel began to play, a cheering, jostling crowd of supporters silently egging on the woman at the podium. The camera took that moment to pan in to the side, revealing the limp form of a boy that was being supported mercilessly by the elbows. While his head was bowed, revealing no facial features to the camera, the long braid trailing down his black clad back was unmistakable. The camera froze, and the screen panned back to reveal the solemn face of the anchorman.
"Duo Maxwell is reportably the Gundam pilot responsible for the destruction of Manson Marines Base outside of Honolulu, Hawaii, killing a hundred and fifty two Marines personnel and costing the United States up to four billion dollars in damage. He's also one of two Gundams responsible for the destruction of the Lunar Base that was destroyed a little more than fourteen months ago."
"Maxwell has quite the reputation for sticking close to popular figureheads," the anchorwoman continued, "and it is for that reason that most speculate why the Earth Sphere Alliance is also looking for Quatre Winner, heir of the Winner fortune and inactive CEO of Winner Enterprises; and Chang Wufei, head of and only surviving member of the Chang clan of L5. The Earth Sphere Alliance, while tightlipped about their reasons for wanting these boys, is unclear at this time, but spokesperson for the E.S.A., Alicia Handle, has emphasized time and time again that the speculation that Winner and Chang may have funded Maxwell's operation is unfound."
"This is almost mind-boggling, Trina (5)," the anchorman said, turning to his counterpart. "None of the boys wanted by the Earth Sphere Alliance seem to be over the age of eighteen. It's a dispiriting moment indeed when mere teenagers already have such negative publicity."
"You're right, Tod," Trina said. "What's most dispiriting about the manhunt for these boys is that the presence of the one confirmed Gundam pilot indeed supports the rumors that at least one, maybe all of the Gundam pilots, are barely out of their childhood."
"There's one other thing that the E.S.A. hasn't confirmed, and it's whether all of the boys being pursued at this moment are Gundam pilots," Tod pointed out. "Five boys, five Gundam pilots -the chances of it being mere guilt by association are astronomical. It would also explain why the five fugitives have the support of such powerful figureheads like Relena Dorlian Peacecraft, former Queen of the World; Lady Une, former commander under General Treize Khushrenada and current head of the Preventers Organization; and Milliardo Peacecraft, formerly known as Zechs Marquise of General Khushrenada's army, later defected to head the extremist White Fang group, now a Preventer agent himself. All of these people from opposite sides of the battle that occurred only last year seem to be pulling for these boys. I tell you, Trina, this could only immortalize the boys in the eyes of some, and damn them in the eyes of others."
"Of course, the Gundam pilots are held in high regards in most circles," Trina added, "while some who have lost family and friends to their outrageous attacks are clamoring for accountability. The Gundam pilots are the same people who almost single-handedly saved the Earth from an eternal winter after one of them, pilot of Gundam designation Wing Zero, went to great lengths and at the risk of his own life to destroy a large piece of the Libra base while entering Earth's atmosphere, nearly tearing his suit apart. For that alone, he is a hero in the eyes of many."
"That's not to say these five boys are Gundam pilots, Trina," Tod reminded her. "For now, it's only speculation that all five boys are Gundam pilots."
"Coming up after the break-"
But Hermione didn't hear much of anything beyond that point. She dazedly excused herself from the den and went to her room, her mind filled with confusion and questions, and none of the immediate answers were comforting at all.
Duo didn't think it was possible for anyone to be any happier than he was on that Christmas day. No one fought, no lives were taken, no blood was shed, and even Draco managed to keep a civil tongue -mostly. Besides that one infraction where Draco had insisted that the new clothes he'd given Harry were actually necessary because -quote "Your wardrobe is absolutely atrocious; I should have received compensation pay for going through it" to which Harry replied angrily, "You went through my stuff!" unquote- nothing bad happened. In fact, that one situation was defused rather quickly when Duo pointed out that, like the linoleum (which still made Duo laugh out loud), Draco probably meant the clothes as something of a joke.
Duo still wanted to know how those two managed to find appropriate gag gifts for each other on such short notice. He'd planned to grill them later to find out their secrets.
The others had gone off to their own towers to drop off their new goodies -well, all except Draco, who was still reclined on the Gryffindor couch playing a four hour long marathon of Tetris. Harry had decided to sneak off with Heero and Trowa to go plunder through Slytherin territory (something about not-so-fond memories, Crabbe, Goyle, a potion, and Hermione turning into a half-cat half-human thing), leaving Duo with no company other than himself.
He left the paper where it lay; somehow, messes in the Gryffindor common room always managed to find themselves tidied up again, so Duo saw no reason to break his back picking everything up. He chalked it up to the magic that was Hogwarts (Hermione would be furious if she ever heard that Duo was leaving things for the house elves to clean up, never mind that he didn't realize there were actual little gremlin things following him around waiting to do such things for him). As he was finding places to put all of his new stuff, he paused to lift the chimes from their bed of velvet, enjoying the way the light reflected and shot off in every which angle.
Maybe Heero really did like him. Well, he knew the Japanese pilot once had a crush on him (that thought still boggled the mind), but Duo had no idea if Heero still felt that way. The present, though... And Heero's reaction to finding out that Duo had a crush on him, too...
"There's hope in that guy yet," Duo announced dryly to the empty common room, hanging the chime directly above his bed where his head would lay so he could stare at it and be reminded nightly that this was just further proof that Heero might care.
He didn't notice the lone gift lying at the foot of his bed until he was finished hanging his chimes. It was slim black box tied with a gold ribbon. Duo's immediate thought was that it must have been from Heero; another gift that Heero wanted to keep between them. Only Heero would realize that his favorite colors were gold and black. The thought made him smile giddily as he fell back on his calves after pulling the gift toward him.
The American pilot carefully slid the bow away and slid the lid off of the box. Nestled in soft, wispy black paper was what looked like a leather holster of some sort, but not for a gun; the shape was all wrong. After a moment he slid the buckles from their trappings and managed to wrap the black holster carefully around his forearm, smiling as the thick of the holster fit comfortably at the underside of his arm, starting just above his wrist and ending just below his elbow. He flicked his wrist to test the feel of it, and was startled to find that something had slid effortlessly from the holster and into the flat of his palm, his fingers automatically wrapping around the cool cylinder object.
"Weird stuff, Heero," Duo murmured aloud, studying the cylinder with a careful eye. He could hardly tell if it were wooden or metal. As a test, he wrapped it once against his headboard. For the second time in less than a minute, Duo was startled to find that, instead of a cylinder object as long as his forearm in his hands, he had a six foot tall bo staff.
"Cool," Duo breathed, crawling out of bed and standing tall, setting the bo staff on the floor. He wrapped it twice against the floor, expecting it to retract. Instead, there was a slick shink of noise that indicated a blade was being drawn, and the curved blade flipped out from the top of the staff, curved to a deadly point.
"A scythe..." Duo whispered. "Heero, you know me so well it's almost scary." With three more raps against the floorboard, the scythe became an unassuming cylinder object once again.
He didn't just like his gift. He freaking loved it, and he was planning to show Heero just how much he appreciated his new present.
(1) Um, if memory serves correctly, "wu" means five and "fei" actually has three or four meanings. One of them is "dragon" (I think?). Another, more amusing meaning is "concubine."
(2) True holiday that was, hm, Monday, I think. Apparently the Official Holiday Maker-Upers thought that everything in the news was making everyone batty, so to counter that, they invented Talk Like A Pirate Day to make everything seem funny. Know what I thought was funny? Pirates, being unscrupulous thieves that sailed the seven seas who killed anyone they wanted, took what they wanted, and had sex with whomever they wanted... and now they're used as a humorous means of distracting everyone from all the terrible news. Priceless irony there -life's just full of it.What it's full of... well, won't go there. :grins:
(3) Kudos to whoever recognizes the popular cult classic Happy Tree Friends. You few are officially on my cool list. If you haven't had the pleasure of watching a few episodes of cute, adorable furry cartoon animals dying painful, graphic, and often gruesome deaths, I'm deeply ashamed. If you have G4TV, otherwise known as the gaming network, home of such shows as Attack of the Show! and X-Play, you're in luck; Happy Tree Friends and Friends plays ever Wednesday night at midnight (11:00 p.m. central). It re-airs at 3:00 a.m. (2:00 a.m. central). Watch it and be merry. If you don't have it, feel free to scrounge up enough cash and head off to your nearest Hot Topic -or any other punk store where they sale smarmy black t-shirts, wicked punk accessories, garage band shirts, and Hello! Kitty accessories. (Because, for reasons I've yet to find out, Hello! Kitty is just so popular in the grung/punk world...)
(4) I don't remember when the pacifist Heero Yuy was assassinated, so the date might by off by a longshot. My bad.
(5) Would you laugh at me if I admitted that the anchorwoman's name was originally Katrina? Would you laugh if I admitted I live in Louisiana? Would you giggle about me changing her name because of Hurricane Katrina? You can if you want. I kind of sheepishly giggled at myself.
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